In this age of endless uploads and releases, trying to keep up with the flow can be pretty overwhelming.
That’s why every month we’re going to be highlighting some of our favourite tracks from the past four weeks. Our writers dig deep for big anthems and stuff that might have flown under the radar. Hopefully you’ll discover something new in each roundup.
This month we’ve got tranquil soul from south London, hefty grime from a rising north London trio, and the return of Jonwayne.
1. Dennis Ayler – Ms Chambers
South London’s 22a label continues in fine form with the debut release from talented newcomer Dennis Ayler.
Title track ‘Put It On’ is perhaps the most obvious winner, and closest to the dance floor, with loose percussion providing the backbone for sensual keys and a killer vocal to glide along to. Yet it’s the delicacy of ‘Ms Chambers’ that lures you in, with a dusty double bass that treads carefully to allow enough space for intimate synths and keys to take reign and wander. Shuffling percussion and hazy vocal fragments emphasise Ayler’s focus on human groove, and his ability to absorb different genres through his own interpretation of modern soul makes him a natural fitting for the 22a collective.
2. Jonwayne – Wonka
Following a year of silence, Jonwayne is back with his first track since his ‘retirement’ last spring. The 26-year-old rapper and producer is still disenchanted with the industry (‘haven’t left home in like, two years…didn’t give a fuck for like two years’), but has nonetheless returned with his trademark sarcastic and witty rhymes, attesting that only those with the ‘golden ticket’ can enter the gates to learn where the heck he’s been all this time.
As ever, Wayne’s self-produced beat and characteristically languid yet powerful piano sample nod to the LA beat scene and provide a rich melodic score to his conversational rapping style. Although his flow seems relaxed and measured on the surface, there’s an undeniable fire lying within. The Californian is clearly contemptuous of the hip-hop world, taking down commercial artists, TIDAL subscribers and circle-jerk interviewers all in the space of a single verse.
Although his affiliation with Stones Throw helped catapult him to fame, Wayne demonstrates that he doesn’t need the prolific label to release quality music. Not only is he independent, down-to-earth and hilarious, his fierce intelligence and stark, old-school beats are a welcome antidote to the 808-laden rap music of late.
3. Mark Pritchard – Beautiful People
Mark Pritchard has walked many paths, in all manner of guises. From the gluttonous swagger of Elephant Dub, Wiley spattered Scar or racy footwork of Ghosts, the producer has proven his malleable sleight of hand over and over. Its no surprise then that Warp signee succeeds in donning an entirely different mask for his latest LP, Under the Sun . This time, he takes a noticeable step away from the bass-centric concoctions that found their home on Deep Medi or Hyperdub and instead focuses his gaze on melody and voice. His collaboration with Thom Yorke embodies this sentiment exactly, with Yorke’s signature vocals entrenched in an angelic woodwind lead and skeletal percussion.
4. Sir Spyro – Side by Side [YGG REMIX]
Ay carumba! The fast rising Camden grime trio may have earned their stripes by shelling on radio, but on this evidence, they also know how to make a killer track. ’Side By Side’ is featured on Amy Becker’s new RMX EP, with other contributions coming from the likes of Logos and Scratcha DVA, but this is definitely the highlight for me. YGG’s energy and chemistry are infectious, and each MC comes with his own distinct flavour – I still can’t work out who has the best verse! The lyrics cover everything from football and road talk to Bill Hicks and Adventure Time(!) while Spyro’s beat still sounds fresh months on from the original track. When the trio performed it during Amy Becker’s Boiler Room set last month they almost took the roof off Moth Club.
5. Lil Silva – Caught up (ft Cosima)
Lil Silva has been drifting away from his forte of bass-heavy dance tunes in recent years. Whilst maintaining his signature sound, new EP Jimi (Journey Inside My Imagination) is a more mellow body of work, and ‘Caught Up’ reinforces this with a nostalgic, melancholy aura. This song, and the whole EP in fact, leave you feeling like you’re in a hazy dream.